Australia bucks global trend; city dwellers getting fatter faster

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Australia bucks the global trend as our city dwellers are getting fatter faster. Heart Foundation General Manager, Heart Health Bill Stavreski, said, “Obesity is a growing problem around the globe. While Australian obesity rates reflect similar findings to this study, it is a different story for overweight Australians.

New international study:

Obesity is rising faster in rural areas, a new global study published today in Nature found.

The study examined data from more than 112 million people from 200 countries and territories between 1985 to 2017. It showed the average person became 5-6 kilos heavier (analyses of height and weight data showed that BMI, or body mass index, increased by 2.0 kg/m2 in women and 2.2 kg/m2 in men).

The research also found that since 1985, average BMI in rural areas has increased faster than BMI in cities, by 2.1 kg/m2 in both women and men. In 1985, urban men and women in over three quarters of the countries had a higher BMI than their rural counterparts. Over time, the gap between urban and rural BMI in many of these countries shrank or even reversed.

Heart Foundation comment:

Australia bucks the global trend as our city dwellers are getting fatter faster.

Heart Foundation General Manager, Heart Health Bill Stavreski, said, “Obesity is a growing problem around the globe. While Australian obesity rates reflect similar findings to this study, it is a different story for overweight Australians.

“A higher proportion of adults in major cities are overweight compared to outer regional and rural areas.  In addition, there has been a 25% increase in city dwellers who are overweight compared to only 5% increase for those in outer regional and rural areas from 2011/12 to 2017/18.

“Most concerningly, if the growth rate trend for overweight Australians continues to increase, this will place a significant burden on our current health resources and increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease.

“Obesity remains a pressing issue whether you live in a city or in the country. In nearly thirty years, the average Australian male has gained 8 kg, with females adding an average 6 kg in weight. We must take action now to reduce the enormous pressure on our health system.

“Poor diet is one of the main risks for premature death in Australia, so that’s why we need to fund policies to target healthy eating initiatives. A National Nutrition Strategy is urgently needed to address the critical issue of rising obesity rates.”

For further interviews: Debora McInnes, National Media Adviser, Heart Foundation

M: 0423 827 697, E: debora.mcinnes@heartfoundation.org.au

 

Rising rural body-mass index is the main driver of the global obesity epidemic in adults” by NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC) is published in the journal Nature